Yukon First Nations share tips on impact agreements
'You have to be clear about what you expect,' says Kluane Chief Mathieya Alatini
First Nations in the Yukon are adding their voices to a "how-to" guide to help other aboriginal communities.
The Impact Benefit Agreement Toolkit, published and distributed by the Toronto-based Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation, is designed to help communities negotiate with mining companies or businesses in other industries.
Chief Mathieya Alatini leads Yukon’s Kluane First Nation, which signed an agreement with Prophecy Platinum two years ago.
She says it has been a positive experience she wants to share with other First Nations.
“We've had a lot of economic benefits, a lot of job opportunities, and opportunity for our corporations to create an economy, which didn't exist in our area,” Alatini says. “I think for First Nations that are just starting out, having that sort of checklist that they can go through is useful.”
Alatini says First Nations must first understand the resource industry before making demands.
“You have to be clear about what you expect. You can't go in and say ‘I want it all, give me all the money’ when really you don't understand what stage they're at. Do they have a lot of money to put into it? If they don't put money into exploration, there's going to be no next stage. So understanding that first is really integral to moving ahead with your IBAs.”
The workshop in Whitehorse also included representatives of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation, Champagne and Aisihik First Nations, Selkirk First Nations, Ross River Dena Council, Teslin Tlingit Council, Vuntut Gwitchin, Nacho Nyak Dun and the Council of Yukon First Nations.
Ginger Gibson is co-author of the toolkit.
She says Yukon's agreements with resource companies have set important precedents.
“There's stunning deals,” she says. “There are deals that stand up across Canada, and so we've brought a team of people here to learn from Yukon experiences.”
Deals signed between First Nations and companies are often confidential. Gibson says it is important for communities to have access to information about "what kinds of benefits they can gain from companies operating in their lands and how they can protect themselves from impacts."
The toolkit has been published since 2010. A new edition to be distributed in October will feature examples from Yukon.